19 Jul 2022Mont Marte

Level up your brush game and sort the flats from the filberts. In this guide to oil paint brushes, we’ll cover everything from the hair type, to the size and shape of the brush, so you can find a brush to suit you.


Range of oil paint brushes with natural and synthetic bristle hairs.

Because of the consistency of oil paints, it’s no secret that oil brushes need to survive the thickness of the paint, but also translate that paint nicely onto the canvas. The bristles in oil paint brushes need to be heavy hitters, so hog bristle, sable and taklon brush hairs will be your main go-tos.

Hog bristle are sometimes referred to as Chungking brushes – this name comes from the Chinese region of Chungking, where the hogs originate from. Hog bristles are durable and can withstand the thick, heavy texture of oil paint. Each strand of the hog bristle is split into a few points from the tip, called “flags.” These flags are important because they’re what help hold and apply the oil paint smoothly.

On the other hand, you have the sable hair brushes. The versatile sable hair bristle can be used for oil, watercolour and acrylic thanks to its thin, bristle shape and fine tapered hair towards the end of the brush. The sable hair brush is great for oil paints because it can absorb the thickness of the paint. Sable hair brushes may not be great for covering large areas but they’re brilliant for adding fine details and thin streaks of oil paint.

Synthetic or taklon brushes, can also be used for oil paints and depending on personal preference, are also an alternative if you don’t want to use natural hair brushes like hog bristle. Synthetic brushes hold and apply paint well and can even be scrubbed against a canvas too, just like hog bristle.


A range of different oil paint brush types laying flat on a white table.

Of course brushes are not always made equal, and sizes depend on the brush brand and manufacturer. As a rough guide, the higher the brush number, the bigger the brush will be.

Brushes above a size 6 are great for broad, strokes and covering large surfaces. Brushes from size 4 to 6 are great for painting small areas. Brushes below a size 4 are great for more detailed and intricate work.


Round brushes

Red paint lines of various round oil paint brushes with the brush next to each paint stroke.

If you’re looking for a general allrounder brush that’s good for covering large areas, and one that can add a good amount of detail in there too, then you’ll want to pick up a round oil brush.
Beginners will find the round brush can also be a little less intimidating thanks to their narrower handle -- it feels similar to holding a pen or pencil. Our Mont Marte round brushes are available in a range of six sizes.

  • Sizes:

    0, 2, 6, 10, 16, 24 (or 1-12 in this set)

  • Techniques:

    - Underpainting

    - Scumbling

    - Impasto

Flat brushes
Blue paint lines of various flat oil paint brushes with the brush next to each paint stroke.

Flat brushes are great for spreading thick oil paint, chiseling edges and creating long lines. Because of their straight, flat edge, these brushes are almost like painting with a ruler, so you can achieve a crisp, sharp, line simply by using the brush’s edge. Our Mont Marte flat brush range has five different sizes so you can find one that suits you.

  • Sizes:

    0, 2, 6, 10, 16 (or 1-12 in this set)

  • Techniques:

    - Linear brush strokes

    - Crisp lines

Filbert brushes

Filbert brushes lined up next to purple lines of paint using the various sizes of oil paint brush.

If you’re tossing up between a round brush and a flat brush, get the best of both worlds with the filbert brush. The filbert brush has a flat belly and a rounded end, which makes them great for blending and softening out harsh edges. Our Mont Marte filbert brushes come in five different sizes so you can find the ideal filbert friend for your next creative session.

  • Sizes:

    2, 6, 10, 16, 24

  • Techniques:

    - Soften edges

    - Blending

    - Gradients of colour

Fan brush

Various lines of turquoise paint with four different sized fan brush with a light and dark blue gradient at the bottom.

Finding oils difficult to move? Try a fan brush. This type of oil brush applies paint much more gently because of its splayed-out bristles. Fan brushes are also great if you’re looking to add light details like grass, hair, foliage or if you just want to lightly remove a thick brushstroke. If you have a small delicate area, try our fan brush in narrow; it features a smaller fan size for those hard to reach areas.

Our Mont Marte fan brushes are available in a range of different sizes, both standard and in our narrow range.

  • Sizes:

    Narrow: 0, 2/0, 3/0, 4, 6, 8, 12

    Standard: 2, 4, 8, 12, 16

  • Techniques:

    - Blends

    - Graduated colour

Bright brushes
Orange oil paint with various sizes of bright oil paint brushes.

Bright brushes are similar to flat brushes but have short, stiff bristles. They’ll be your best bet for filling in tight areas of colour, or for moving oil paint around your canvas, without running the risk of blending the colours together.
Our Mont Marte bright, oil brushes are available in five different sizes.

  • Sizes:

    2, 6, 10, 16, 24

  • Techniques:

    - Textural effects

    - Impasto

Angled brushes
Angled brushes lined up next to pale blue lines of paint using the various sizes of oil paint brush.

Can’t reach those tricky places? Grab an angled brush for those tight corners and small areas. This oil brush will give you more control when adding in those itty-bitty details or shading curved edges. Our Mont Marte oil brush sets include an angled oil brush so you can have every size brush just at an arm’s reach.

  • Sizes:

    Signature brush collection 15pc: Angled spot liner 0 or Signature Brush Set with easel wallet 17pc: 6, 7

  • Techniques:

    - Cut sharp edges

    - Double loading

    - Pointillism

Rigger brushes
Five different types of rigger brushes varying in size next to circles painted with each size.

Rigger brushes are great for creating thin lines, thanks to their long handle and thin bristles, they also make precise lines much easier to control. Our Mont Marte sable rigger brushes are available in three different sizes.

  • Sizes:

    2, 6, 10,

  • Techniques:

    - Outlines and fine lines

    - Detailing

Detailer brushes

Four detailer brushes next to black oil paint lines made with each brush.

As the name would suggest, these brushes are great for fine detailing because of their short and thin bristles. Paint with precision for intricate areas or use one to sign your finished work. Our Mont Marte detailer brushes are available in both the brush set 5pc or the mini 5pc brush set for the finest of artworks.

  • Sizes:

    Detailer and Liner Brush set 5pc: 1, 5/0 or Mini Detail Brush 5pc set: angled spot detailer

  • Techniques:

    - Outlines and fine lines

    - Detailing

Liner brushes
Liner paint brush using black paint painting a line next to various oil paint brushes.

If you’re adding blades of grass, wisps of hair or thin branches, a liner oil brush will work wonders. With its long, thin bristles, the liner brush is also great for light touch ups and subtle details. Our Mont Marte oil brush sets include a liner brush so you’ll have everything you need to get creating on your next oil painting masterpiece.

· Sizes:
Detailer and Liner Brush set 5pc: 1, 5/0. Signature brush collection 15pc: 0, 1, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0 or Signature Brush Set with easel wallet 17pc: 1, 2.

· Techniques:
- Outlines and fine lines
- Detailing

We hope that you feel inspired to pick up an oil brush and create something new. Shop our range of oil paint brushes here. Or if you’re looking to put your oil brushes to good use, then follow along with our latest oil lesson and create this rainbow lorikeet bird painting.

We’d love to see what you come up with, so be sure to #montmarteart or tag us @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook.